Bangladesh: A new seventh wonder?

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    Young Bangladeshi women collect seashells along Bazar Beach, Bangladesh. The beach is vying to win one of seven spots in an Internet contest called "New 7 Wonders of Nature.”
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COX'S BAZAR, BANGLADESH – Bangladeshis are passionate about Cox’s Bazar beach, their 75-mile-long stretch of sand – claimed to be the world’s longest – located in the southeast of the country.

Because of its gentle slope, the beach is popular among swimmers. Even female bathers wade into these waters in their traditional salwar kameez (long shirt and pants combo), as is customary in this Muslim nation. Dark green waves entice surfers from the local Bangladesh Surf Club; last October an international surfing competition was held here.

Millions of Bangladeshis vacation here. While Laboni beach, the main beach of Cox’s Bazar, teems with begging children, zooming ATVs, and people selling strands of tiny seashells, other stretches are quieter, more pristine, and free from tourists. This could change if Cox’s Bazar succeeds in winning one of seven spots in an Internet contest called “New 7 Wonders of Nature.”

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New7wonders.com, sponsored by the New7Wonders Foundation, invites anyone to vote online for seven of its 77 nature nominees. Cox’s Bazar is currently ranked No. 1 in the “Group G: Seascapes” category, just ahead of the Great Barrier Reef.

Bangladeshi passion, however, nearly cost the beach its place in the rankings. For a time last year, rigged websites let fans vote for Cox’s Bazar more than once. The beach was removed from the rankings until the websites were shut down.

As of now, Cox’s Bazar beach is back on track to make the final round. The contest is open through July. Judges will make the final decision in 2011.

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